South Africa’s ANC considers partners, from free marketeers to Marxists

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – The African National Congress held high-stakes discussions on Tuesday to decide which parties they should approach in order to form the next government of South Africa. On its list were two diametrically opposing groups: Marxists and Free-Marketeers.

The ANC has lost its majority after 30 years dominance. Nelson Mandela brought it to power at the 1994 landmark elections, which marked the end apartheid. The ANC is still the largest party, but it can’t govern on its own.

Voters punished former liberation movements for poverty, unemployment and inequality, rampant criminality, rolling power outages and corruption. These problems have held South Africa behind and will be a challenge to the next government.

The party will hold 159 of the 400 seats in the new National Assembly. Other parties include the market-friendly Democratic Alliance (DA), the populist uMkhonto we Sizwe, the Marxist Economic Freedom Fighters, and the socially conservative Inkatha Freedom Party.

As soon as the new parliament convenes on June 16, it will begin by selecting the president of the country. At the moment, it looks like Cyril Ramaphosa will be the president, but he could face pressure to resign or to prepare for a successor due to his party’s poor performance.

On Tuesday, a working committee consisting of 27 ANC officials would meet to prepare a list of options that they will present to the National Executive Committee of the party (NEC) in its meeting on Wednesday.

The Daily Maverick is a South African website that publishes details of three internal ANC documents. The documents outline scenarios.

According to one of those documents, the preferred option was a confidence-and-supply agreement in which the ANC would hold executive power, with some positions for the IFP, while the DA would have the upper hand in parliament, holding the Speaker’s seat and powerful committee positions.

In this scenario, the DA would support the ANC minor government in key votes, such as budgets or confidence motions. This is in exchange for concessions on policy and participation in the legislative process.

The parties are diverging sharply

According to the document the second best option was a coalition of the ANC with the DA and IFP. This, according to the document, would alienate some ANC supporters. Finding common ground would also be a challenge.

According to the document, a government of unity that included a wider range of parties was the least desirable option. The document said that this could lead to instability and collapse or one or more parties would withdraw, leaving the ANC and the EFF in a coalition.

A spokesperson for the ANC declined to comment on what was reported in the Daily Maverick.

The DA has described an alliance between the ANC, the EFF, or MK as a “doomsday” scenario. Financial markets and foreign investors would also be very concerned.

The EFF is led by Julius Malema – a former leader of ANC youth wing, who left the party – and advocates nationalising banks and mines, and taking land from white farmers in order to give it to Black farmers.

MK, a party that performed strongly in Zuma’s province, KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), also advocates land seizures and nationalisations, as well scrapping the Constitution and introducing an parliamentary chamber consisting of traditional leaders.

Many analysts see the party as Zuma’s vehicle to exact revenge against his former party, the ANC, after he had to resign as president of South Africa in 2018 due to a series of corruption scandals. Since then, he has become Ramaphosa’s most fervent enemy.

The DA positions itself as a proponent of free-market economy and business. It also supports scrapping some of ANC’s flagship Black Empowerment measures, which they claim have failed.

The DA is often accused of only representing the interests and privileges of a white minority. However, it rejects this label. It says that good governance is beneficial to all South Africans.

Inter-party discussions are likely to be difficult because all opposition parties have attacked the ANC in a virulent manner during the campaign period.

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